Businesses near UTEP react to Gov. Abbott’s no mask mandate

Graphic+by+Hugo+Hinojosa

Graphic by Hugo Hinojosa

Victoria Rivas , Contributor

On Wednesday, March 10, business across Texas were allowed to reopen at 100% capacity and with no mask requirements, per Gov. Greg Abbott’s newly executive order. 

“With this executive order, we are ensuring that all businesses and families in Texas have the freedom to determine their own destiny,” Abbott said during a news conference on March 2. “…Today’s announcement doesn’t abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it’s a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others.” 

Businesses near UTEP are doing just that, as some continue to implement safety protocols and limit capacity at their own discretion.  

El Rincon de Cortez, a Mexican restaurant located at 3415 Sun Bowl Drive, disagrees with Abbott’s decision to fully reopen Texas.  

“We are going to continue using our masks as employees because we all agreed on it,” Lilia Hogon, a cashier at El Rincon de Cortez, said. “We disagree with his decision, but this restaurant will continue separating all tables and use our face masks.”  

Abbott said state mandates are no longer necessary due to the increase of COVID-19 vaccinations, reduced hospitalizations, and enough equipment to perform over 100,000 COVID-19 tests a day.  

“We’ve put up a sign on the entrance saying that we recommend our clients to wear a face mask once they enter the building for our safety and their safety,” Hogon said. But it is just a recommendation.” 

So El Paso, located at 2717 N Stanton St, acknowledged the freedom Abbott’s changes bring, but it will not change its current mask policy. 

“I love that we live in a state that allows freedom of choice,” said Anne Mitchell, owner of So El Paso. “With that said, our team will continue to wear masks, and we will require our guests too, as well.” 

UTEP Housing and Residence Life residents, who mostly rely on stores near campus, also disagree with the new changes.   

“Although the numbers of infected people have gone down, and there is a vaccine now, it is too sudden to remove the restrictions that have helped us slow down the spread of the virus,” Fernando Dominguez, an electrical engineer student and resident assistant at Miner Canyon, said. hope many businesses still keep their social distance and face mask policies.”  

Bars located at the Cincinnati Entertainment District were contacted, like Lost and Found, Good Times at 2626, and Champagne Villain but did not respondThe Palomino Tavern bar refused to comment.  

“Many residents do not want to expose themselves to the virus not only for their health and safety but also for the safety of their friends and family,” Dominguez said. Here in housing and residence life, we will continue to encourage students to take the necessary precautions, such as masks and hand sanitizers, when going anywhere outside their apartments.”  

The executive order allows county judges to use COVID-19 mitigation strategies and limit capacity to 50% if any region in Texas goes above 15% of hospital bed capacity.  

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser wrote a personal letter to Gov. Abbott on Thursday, March 4, asking him to allow local leaders to impose their own mask mandates based on individual challenges each community faces. However, it is unknown if a response has been given.  

As of March 12El Paso has reported 2,234 COVID-19 related deaths, with 236 people currently hospitalized and 3, 853 active cases.   

Victoria Rivas may be reached at [email protected]; @VicRivas_18 on Twitter.